Annual Lecture 2018: International law and the far right - Reflections on law and cynicism

29 November 2018
  • Starts at: 15:15h
  • Fee: Free
  • Venue: Academy Hall of the Peace Palace, The Hague, the Netherlands
  • Organiser: T.M.C. Asser Instituut
  • Address: Carnegieplein 2
    2517 KJ The Hague
  •   Register

Registration is now closed as we have reached the maximum seating capacity. Should you still be interested to attend, please send an e-mail to including your full name, affiliation, and position to be placed on a waiting list.

We are delighted to announce that Professor Martti Koskenniemi will deliver the Fourth Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture this year on International Law and the Far Right: Reflections on Law and Cynicism. 

In his lecture, Prof. Koskenniemi will address the role of international law in dealing with the rising far right, as the backlash against global rule and the international institutions of the liberal 1990s continues. Prof. Koskenniemi believes greater openness is needed, “not to populist leaders, but to problems of global inequality” to protect international law from “falling into irrelevance.”

Prof. Koskenniemi is one of the great critical minds in contemporary scholarship of international law with over 110 publications under his belt. From serving as a Finnish Diplomat to working as the legal adviser to the Finnish Delegation to the UN Security Council (at the time of the First Gulf War), he also has extensive experience in the field.

Martti Koskenniemi is Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights. He was a member of the Finnish diplomatic service in 1978-1994 and of the International Law Commission (UN) in 2002-2006. He has held visiting professorships in, among other places, New York University, Columbia University, University of Cambridge, London School of Economics, and Universities of Brussels, Melbourne, Paris, Sao Paulo and Utrecht. He is a member of the Institut de droit international and a Fellow of the British Academy. He has a doctorate h.c. from the Universities of Uppsala, Frankfurt and McGill. His main publications include From Apology to Utopia - The Structure of International Legal Argument (1989/2005), The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960 (2001) and The Politics of International Law (2011).  He is currently working on a history of international legal thought from the late medieval period to the 19th century.

When: Thursday, 29 November 2018, from 16.00 – 17.30 hrs, followed by a reception. Registration starts at 15.15 hrs, with coffee and tea.
Where: Academy Hall of the Peace Palace, The Hague, the Netherlands

About the Annual Lecture
The Annual T.M.C. Asser lecture honours the Dutch jurist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Tobias Michael Carel Asser (Amsterdam, 28 April 1838 – The Hague, 29 July 1913), and his significant contributions to the development of public and private international law.

A question that Tobias Asser handed down to us is: ‘How can law and legal institutions contribute to the cultivation of such necessary trust and respect?’ – a question central to the Asser Institute’s Research Agenda.

The Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture brings this question to different contexts and fields of law. Each year we invite an internationally renowned jurist and outstanding public intellectual to take inspiration from Tobias Asser’s vision and to examine – as Asser did in his days – how to respond to ‘the condition of society’. The lecture is a platform for constructive, critical reflection on the role of law in addressing the challenges and (potentially radical) changes of the global society of the 21st century.

Two years ago, at the second T.M.C. Annual Lecture, Asser's Academic Director Janne Nijman, said “while trust is evident in other disciplines, in the legal discipline, the debate on ‘the indeterminacy of the law’ of the last two decades  - stirred by scholars such as Martti Koskenniemi and David Kennedy - led to an enquiry into the practices and responsibilities of the international lawyer.”